DOT Plans to Bring NYC’s First Separated Busway to 34th Street

busway_34th.jpgWhat the 34th Street transitway might look like between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Image: NYCDOT

When DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan hinted last Tuesday that bolder ideas were on the way for bus rapid transit in New York City, she apparently meant "next week." The DOT website now displays an updated plan for the next phase of bus improvements on 34th Street, which would convert the current bus lanes into a full-fledged transitway.

In addition to the features already found on New York’s Select Bus Service, the 34th Street plan adds full separation from traffic, with two-way bus service operating on one side of the street. General traffic would travel one-way toward the Hudson River west of Sixth Avenue, and toward the East River east of Fifth Avenue. Between Fifth and Sixth, a new pedestrian plaza would be constructed in place of traffic lanes — a configuration that Streetsblog readers may recall from a presentation in 2008.

All told, DOT projects that bus speeds will improve 35 percent, cutting river-to-river travel time to 20 minutes. Currently, buses on 34th Street are in motion only 40 percent of the time.

The placement of the transitway was selected specifically to enable pedestrian improvements. Running bus service in both directions along one side of the street allows for wider sidewalks and pedestrian refuge islands, according to an analysis of different options for the corridor [PDF]. Compatibility with loading and deliveries was also a make-or-break
factor — the configuration maintains curbside access to one side of
the street along the entire route.

34thplan_typical__1_.jpgImage: NYCDOT

The new transitway would connect four subway stations, the busiest rail station in the nation, and the 34th Street ferry terminal. The M34 and M16 bus routes, which both run on 34th Street, carried more than 14,000 passengers per day in 2008. Several other bus routes use a portion of 34th Street.

In coming years, the corridor will get busier. The ARC tunnel will bring more New Jersey commuters into Penn Station. The 7 train will extend to 34th and Eleventh Avenue, and the development of Hudson Yards will bring thousands more residents to the west side. On the east side, the transitway would link up with Select Bus Service on First and Second Avenues.

The planning process is still in the early stages, and nothing is set in stone. Still to come: more detailed design, environmental review, gathering public input (which you can currently submit via the DOT website), and an analysis of necessary changes to the truck network. Planners hope to attract federal funding for the project. We have a request in with DOT for more information about what’s next.

34thst_atstation.jpgImage: NYCDOT
34thst_notatstation.jpgImage: NYCDOT

  • BicyclesOnly

    Thanks for the clarification, Ian. I knew those “CAR-tographers” were full of s**t.Just dusted off an old AAA map on my bookshelf, and there’s a “495” (NY state, not interstate emblem) plastered on top of 34th Street. So I’m sure Joseph is not alone in viewing 34th as part of 495.

    I do think it will be important to advise and guide motoring tourists (and locals with a die-hard preference for cutting through midtown) of desirable alternate routes. I’d favor big, big signs preceding the LIE exchanges with the BQE, the GCP and the FDR telling motorists:

    Midtown Route Through Manhattan Eliminated–New Jersey-Bound Traffic Use Alt Routes: [List]”

  • momos

    jass:

    True, streetcar lanes can be made into shared lanes with cars. So can bus lanes, as we see everywhere in the city.

    As to the greater frequency of buses to streetcars, there’s nothing inherent to streetcars that makes this so. I was just in Basel, Switzerland (pop. 170,000; NYC-Penn Station alone is used by 600,000 people each day) where streetcars operate at 30-second headways.

    A bus lane can be easily repainted. Streetcar infrastructure is much more permanent.

  • momos

    I’m all for this plan (though streetcars instead of buses would be better). However, the closure of 34th to cars between 5th and 6th Aves is misplaced.

    The volume of pedestrians is far greater between 7th Ave/Penn Station and 6th Ave/Herald Square. During much of the day this block experiences pedlock that would put the old Times Square to shame. THIS is the section of 34th that needs to be closed to cars, with the transitway down the middle flanked by widened sidewalks.

    DOT prefers closing the stretch between 5th and 6th because it’s minimally disruptive to auto traffic. If a closure is made with pedestrians as the first priority, the obvious segment to close is between 7th and 6th.

  • In general, when considering this plan and its suitability for other neighborhoods, remember that DOT does not set bus routes or schedules. The creation of a 34th Street busway allows for more bus uses than the present configuration, which would include the present traffic of M16/M34 buses, the Hudson River ferry connector bus, hop-on/hop-off tour buses, and the intercity coaches, and could expand to NJ Transit buses diverted from Port Authority Bus Terminal and added express bus service from Staten Island. I can envision (and I suspect DOT can, too) the entire busway jammed with bus traffic from river to river, like an above-ground XBL, or a linear Port Authority.

    To answer Alon’s question more directly, then, I believe 34th Street was chosen over (for instance) 125th or 86th Streets because of the volume of crosstown buses in midtown that could be using it. There are four NYCT bus lines on 125th Street, and a couple of tour buses that go that way, but that’s about it. A 125th St busway would be largely empty; a 34th St busway would be bumper-to-bumper.

    And some additional thoughts on 125th Street and its BRT potential: West 125th between 5th Ave and St. Nicholas Avenue is crowded with sidewalk vendors who use vans parked in munimeter spots for inventory. There are decades of historical antagonism between city officials and the sidewalk vendors, who largely operate in the informal sector. I presume that the vendors’ demand for sidewalk space inhibits locals from considering projects to take more of the street away from automobiles.

  • Tubulus

    Glad I don’t live on 35th street anymore! This is definitely going to have some nasty effects on the already very-congested crossstreets. I also wonder if this will increase traffic on the cross bronx for people going from queensNJ.

    Still a great idea though!

  • Closing Broadway in Times Square resulted in a net decrease in traffic congestion. Maybe the plans for 34th St. will also.

  • Red

    RE: Cap’n Transit, Alon, others — From the NYCDOT website:

    “In addition, the Transitway will be used by existing and expanded express bus routes from Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and New Jersey, buses connecting to the Pier 79/West 39th Street ferry terminal, and other local buses.”

  • Woody

    There’s several good reasons to start BRT on 34th Street. I’d say the chief one is that if it’s successful and seen as a success, then it will be easy to duplicate the Transitway on Canal, Houston, 14th, 23rd, 42nd, 57th, East 86th, 96th St, West 110th, 116th, 125th, 135th, 145th, 181st, and perhaps on other Crosstown streets as well as in the outer boros.

    Doing this effort on 34th instead of 42nd also avoids any confusion that this Transitway is merely an extension of the Broadway Boulevard through Times Square.

    If the DOT can do enough of these projects in Manhattan, it will add up to a disincentive to private-car commuting into the center city almost as effective as congestion pricing. Alas, that will be without the revenue-generating aspect that would have supported other transit improvements. But if transitways keep cars out and make public transportation faster and more appealing, I’m all for them.

  • momos

    Shouldn’t the block between Penn Station and Herald Square be closed to cars as well? There’s more pedlock on that block than between 5th & 6th or almost anywhere else in Manhattan.

    What do people think?

  • Ian: if it’s really political, then it’s strange. JSK has put a pedestrianized plaza at Madison Square, reduced the number of lanes on Broadway between 42nd and 34th, placed a bike lane on 9th, and closed Broadway through Times and Herald Squares, all despite community protests. But somehow, she’s not putting transit improvements in Harlem due to political opposition?

    More to the point, I’ve seen no community opposition to SBS in Brooklyn and the Bronx. The pols seem to be apathetic about it.

    Red, Jonathan: the total daily ridership on the buses that use 125th is 94,000. The total daily ridership on the M34 and M16 is 18,000. There are few express buses that use 34th, and those have other speed issues, for examples access to the Queens Midtown Tunnel. The expansion plans are nice, but right now the busiest express buses, with about 5,000-7,000 daily riders, run north-south in Manhattan, and have Lower Manhattan rather than Midtown traffic as their biggest problem.

    The sidewalk vendor issue is a real problem, yes. It definitely makes it impossible to run BRT in the style envisioned for 34th. However, there are other solutions that could work, for example BRT in the center lanes, with loading zone regulations in the parking lanes.

    Woody: separated lanes on every crosstown street are probably overkill. But even if they’re not, there’s still the question of why 34th is first and not a street with pressing traffic, pollution, and bus demand issues.

  • Ian Turner

    Alon, the Times Square, Madison Square, Broadway, and Meatpacking projects were all done in cooperation with the local business improvement districts. It’s simply wrong to say that the DOT override community opposition on these projects. Even most of the bike lane projects were done with community board support, though sometimes (e.g. Grand St.) the community later changed its mind. Almost nobody lives on 34th St., so you have less resident NIMBY opposition to major changes.

    If you aren’t aware of politicians giving SBS flak, then you haven’t been paying attention, You needn’t look any further than the thompson campaign to see the sentiment. The general perspective seems to be that BRT is great as long as it doesn’t get in the way of parking and doesn’t create traffic congestion (or the perception of increased congestion). And then there is the whole situation with bus enforcement cameras…

  • liam

    Bloomie will be remembered for not digging us a budgetary hole during the lush years, school control and innovations, and the dot changing the city for the first time since cars starting running things. and bike lanes (a personal thanks for those, especially in brooklyn).

  • No, the projects were done in cooperation with the elements in the business community that already favored the plans. JSK has always made sure to avoid meeting with people who disagree with her. The bike lane project in Chelsea drew so much opposition that one business owner promoted a conspiracy theory that JSK was secretly anti-gay.

    Most of the NIMBYism comes from retail owners rather than residents. Residents by and large don’t own cars; they don’t care what happens to drivers. It’s business owners who raise specious concerns with customer access and real concerns with delivery truck access. If it were primarily residents who raised objections, 125th would be the easiest thing in the city – few people live there, and the people who do live there are very poor even by Harlem standards.

    The Thompson campaign was based on disagreeing with everything Bloomberg does. It wasn’t based on a coherent platform. In fact at one point, Thompson attacked a bike lane project that was popular in the local community – I think it was Grand Street, but I may be wrong.

  • Ian Turner

    Alon,

    Granted on the NIMBYs, but the Thompson event I linked to featured several city politicians against SBS, not just Thompson.

    Cheers,

    –Ian

  • PlaNYC will be reviewed next year (it will have been four years since it was introduced in 2007). Transit initiatives might be updated, including having more transitways like the bus lane. What else should be changed? What do you think? Let us know on http://www.explaintheplan.com
    http://explaintheplan.com/?p=398

  • Momos @59 is right about the greater volume near Penn Station. the beauty of this plan is that once the non-bnus through route is eliminated, the incremental usefulness of retaining non-BRT traffic on each remaining block is diminished and extending the pedestrian zone becomes more feasible.

  • Monique Wahba

    I’m excited to see this project. I expect it will bring even more attention to BRT in the U.S. as a workable, lower cost (compared to LRT), and flexible transit option.

  • Ian: Liu and DeBlasio are against anything. Like the Congressional Republicans, they’re being obstructionist for the sake of obstructionism. Putting BRT on 34th because of them is like watering down every single reform on the federal level in the vain hope that it’ll get more Republican votes than Olympia Snowe’s.

  • Jan van Eck

    What remains unclear is whether the buses actually using the busway will only be city transit units, or if inter-city and charter buses will also be allowed on. If you exclude these other buses, then they will have to jam into the overflow traffic on the parallel lanes, which are already limited in space, or will have to jam into other streets, worsening congestion there.

    Planning people seem to have developed the idea that transit passengers are somehow different from other bus passengers. Yet, when you think about it, if the idea is to get people out of single-occupancy autos (including taxis) and onto HOV units, then “a bus is a bus is a bus.”

  • making the streets safe for recumbent and semi-recumbent electric-optional tricycles would by far make the most economic sense with a many benefits.

  • Jan, on Page 5-6 of the PDF linked in the post, the DOT says, “The transitway would be for the exclusive use of local buses, express buses, and emergency vehicles.” Since the transitway will be the only way for vehicles to go between Fifth and Sixth Avenues on 34th Street, I think that the DOT will allow inter-city and charter buses to go through there.

    That said, not all express buses will want to stop at every avenue. If all the buses are confined to a single lane, the express buses will not be able to pass the local buses, and will get held up.

  • Jan van Eck

    Cap’n Transit, I am not so convinced that DOT will “allow inter-city and charter buses” to use the transitway. the history of such arrangements is not inspiring of confidence. For example, only “permitted” buses can use the various sections of the Queens divided roadways near Shea Stadium. Who gets the permit? Not some out-of-town bus company. Then take a look at the way the Lincoln Tunnel is segregated: no charter buses on the inbound extra cross-flow lanes and ramps in the morning.

    There is a proposed “busway” about to be built between New Britain and Hartford in CT. It is on the old ROW of a rail line. What buses will be on the busway”? You guessed it: only the “permitted” buses. In effect, only the two CT operators that have extensive contacts with the DOT there: Dattco and CT Transit. Everybody else gets kicked off.

    And that, Captain, is the sorry state of decision-making by bureaucrats. Since the “Proposal” only recites local and express transit equipment, don’t be surprised the other equipment ends up being forced to run squeezed on the auto lanes. And that defeats the purpose of the transitway – unless you conclude that passengers on Bus A are special and different from passengers on Bus B.

  • BicyclesOnly

    I’d like to see more than just MTA buses use the dedicated 34th St. BRT lanes, but I’m not outraged by the idea that government would give itself a favored ROW–at this point, MTA has to do whatever it can to pay its own way. Folks are expecting MTA to function like a private company, it should be able to act like one–and what company that had the ability to give itself a monopoly on quicker cross-town transport would be expected to share it with competitors for free? Maybe the best approach is to let non-MTA bus lines pay a fee for the use of the BRT lanes. Every NY Waterway bus in the BRT lane will slow down the MTA passengers, fueling more misguided MTA hate, unless the NY Waterway ticketholder has to pay more.

    The time has long passed where NY can afford to keep giving away use of public space for free without any thought given to the policy consequences.

  • momos

    BicyclesOnly:

    Good point. Pedestrian volume is highest near Penn Station between 7th & 6th Aves, and while this plan closes between 6th and 5th it may set the stage for a larger closure in the future.

  • Momos: in other words, what you’re saying is that JSK deliberately chose the suboptimal block between 5th and 6th, so that she’ll have an excuse to close down another block to traffic.

    Nice.

  • Woody

    Alon, Relax and enjoy life! I’m sure the ultimate goal is a pedestrain plaza from 5th to 8th Aves. But going for three blocks at once would be overreaching and a likely failure. So start with one block and plan to add one or two more soonish.

    So which one goes first? Two for the possible choices will be ‘sub-optimal’ to the other one. Well, in the real world, suboptimal is often what you get. Now of the three blocks in question, which is the easiest one to get done?

    The block between 5th and 6th seems like a logical place to divide the traffic, the halfway point. Wonder who controls this block in realpolitik? The owners of the Empire State Building? They may like pedestrian plazas for all those tourists heading for their elevators. So that could be an easy one.

    Who controls 34th between 6th and 7th? Macy’s, of course. Is Macy’s ready to close off the block in front of its store? Maybe not yet. Maybe they want to wait and see. I don’t know.

    And who controls the block between 7th and 8th? That entrance to the LIRR is like a pedestrian street all by itself. I doubt if K-Mart and the smaller retailers along the north side of the block care one way or tuther.

    But is it easier to close off the block nearest Penn Station and then add to the east, or easier to start at 5th and add two blocks to the west?

    I think the plan makes good sense just this way. And I look forward to more blocks being closed to traffic before the third term is over.

    I also look forward to seeing more Transitways with separated lanes for buses, and I hope that among them is 125 Street. My hopes for 125 Street do not stop me from embracing the new plan for 34th Street.

  • Meh. Pedestrianized 34th would turn out somehow better than pedestrianized Broadway, which is just a disaster outside Times Square. But it wouldn’t be Nanjing Road – the foot traffic density just isn’t there, away from Penn Station.

    If the goal is good transit, rather than stealth pedestrianization, then there’s no reason to close off any part of 34th.

  • Woody

    Alon — Are we living in the same city? In the same universe? You’ve just got to get out more. 😉

    The “Broadway Boulevard” section from 42nd down to 34th St is working wonderfully well.

    Day and night the seats in the “street park” are filled. Older people with time to while away, overloaded shoppers, teenagers on a cheap date, exhausted tourists, nicotine addicts taking a quick break, and others enjoy the relative peace of sitting in the middle of Broadway.

    On a pleasant evening the buskers overflow from Times Square. So jugglers, break dancers, steel drummers, sketch artists, and others now offer to entertain in what had been a forbidding dead zone. Signs and streetfront windows seem to be brighter. Delis and cafes that used to close by 7 p.m. now keep their doors open into the evening.

    The section shows a few design flaws. Chiefly, the bike lane located along the curb entices people to just step off the sidewalk into the lane. Better to move it to the middle of the street, next to the parking lane. Hey, that’s just what they did on the newer section from 59th St down to Times Square! Meanwhile, traffic has been so calmed that it feels safe to ride in the street, nevermind that the bike lane is in the wrong place.

    Now that this ‘restricted traffic’ version of Broadway has been declared permanent, after the ‘trial period,’ we can expect amenities like new street furniture and plantings, and more bike racks. I expect the northern stretch from Columbus Circle will soon be as popular with walkers and sitters as the first part toward Herald Square.

    However, I was re-thinking the question of pedestrian plazas on 34th St. I’m glad the plan is to start with only one block, suboptimal it may be. The record of streets completely closed traffic to create “downtown malls” has been very poor. Apparently people like to have a couple of lanes of traffic moving beside the sidewalks. The movement of cars — and police vehicles, etc. — gives a sense of security that is easily lost when the whole street is quiet. So half-closing 34th Street, the way Broadway has been half-closed to traffic, may be exactly the right thing to do.

  • Woody — Are we living on the same planet? Could you please give examples of your interesting theories and claims about public spaces and security? Do you realize that there are people with legs in police vehicles, and if separated from them they can walk, etc? Before cars came along people living in cities felt less safe because there were no cars, i.e. cars were invented to keep people walking feel safe? Also, quiet is bad?

  • Todd, you really don’t want to know how much crime there was in New York in the days of Five Points and no mechanized transportation.

    As for the part about pedestrianization failing, I might ask you for the opposite, for examples of success along major roads that aren’t in Shanghai… (no, Broadway doesn’t count. The chairs between 42nd and 34th aren’t filled; in the evening it looks as empty and sketchy as the portion of Broadway further south.)

    Woody, the inclusion of BRT in the pedestrianized street makes it somewhat better than before. Transit malls need to have transit in them. On the other hand, just because you do something by the salami method doesn’t make it any better.

  • Alon: As you know, about ten years ago a large area around Times Square was temporarily closed due to a construction accident. The result was that the streets filled, spontaneously.

    A public square or similarly functioning area will function best when mixed use (smaller, with tolerant neighbors) or larger with cafés and so on nearby, or lighting at night. When it is dark and cars are still nearby, people feel vulnerable. So, please just consider what a space can be if motorized traffic can be completely removed, and there is stuff to do, and also people returning home after work…. anyway, check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Italia_277.jpg

  • Todd: okay, you’ve shown me an image of a piazza surrounded by narrow streets, i.e. not a major road. The removal of 5th Avenue through Washington Square was a success, too; so what?

    Lighting at night and cars have nothing to do with each other. On the contrary, when it comes to safety, the adviceyou’d get in the ghetto is to avoid parks, and, depending on the neighborhood, one-way streets. Roaming taxis can provide a surprising amount of safety.

    And whatever the result was ten years ago, the result today is that Times Square was full of pedestrians both before and after pedestrianization, while the Broadway stretch between Times and Herald Squares has few people in daytime and none after dark.

  • Alon: The reason I showed that photo from Siena is because big facade-to-facade public spaces are really, really great things and I think the people of NYC want them! Not “so what” but “so, when?” Washington Square Park is still more of a park then a square.

    You talk about these major roads as if they have always been there and will always be there because if they don’t then the sky will fall. Right? If Bway between Times and Herald Squares is not peopled enough then get different businesses in there, change zoning if necessary, pay for some bands to play there.

    I don’t disagree about some positive effects of taxis, etc. within the current environment but of course this is because they have a person in them. So, people are the solution.

  • #82 Alon Levy, “. . . the adviceyou’d get in the ghetto is to avoid parks, and, depending on the neighborhood, one-way streets. Roaming taxis can provide a surprising amount of safety.”

    So, you’re from the ghetto? And, if there are a lot of friendly people at night in some ghetto park you should still avoid it?

    And, cars make this city safe even though they kill on the scale of this city’s homicide rates?

    Including taxis where in bad areas traditionally the police allow taxis to jump red lights and leave as quick as possible.

    Cars greatly diminish urban quality of life and there are much better, more practical, and safe mobility solutions with the environmental crisis serving as coffin nails for a very bad habit.

  • If Bway between Times and Herald Squares is not peopled enough then get different businesses in there

    Good luck shooing Macy’s out.

    Seriously. If the land use around Broadway is not conducive to a pedestrian piazza, why not instead build the piazza somewhere where the existing land use is more conducive and where the local community is more supportive?

    So, you’re from the ghetto? And, if there are a lot of friendly people at night in some ghetto park you should still avoid it?

    I lived in/near Harlem for a while, and I’ve talked about urban issues with people from the South Bronx. In Harlem I can say from experience that taxis don’t run red light.

    And, cars make this city safe even though they kill on the scale of this city’s homicide rates?

    Way to twist my words… how does “on lightly trafficked streets, taxis make things less sketchy” turn into “cars make this city safe”? We’re not talking about traffic calming on QB or West Street. The issue is Broadway, a signal-timed, wide-sidewalked street where pedestrians get the crossing to themselves for half of every cycle.

  • I myself prefer to take my passeggiata around my own neighborhood, rather than travel on transit somewhere else. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan_Community_Board_5"Not that many people live in midtown, relatively speaking, and perhaps that’s why there aren’t so many people walking around at night.

  • #85 Alon Levy, “I lived in/near Harlem for a while, and I’ve talked about urban issues with people from the South Bronx. In Harlem I can say from experience that taxis don’t run red light.”

    Does not sound like it from this statement. And currently, Harlem is quite upscale.

    Re: “on lightly trafficked streets, taxis make things less sketchy”

    That is not what you wrote. You wrote: “Roaming taxis can provide a surprising amount of safety.”

    And, people on the streets provide safety, not cars.

  • Harlem is not upscale outside the imaginations of people who’ve only seen chunks of 125th in the daytime. I lived in the richest census tract in Harlem, the one facing St. Nicholas Park. As of 2000, it had about 23% poverty, and a median household income of $30,000 (Harlem-wide, the respective numbers are 37% and $19,000). It looked like a typical ghetto-cum-working class block, complete with bodegas that have no fresh food, and a park whose interior nobody dared enter after dark. The route I’d take home from the subway was not scary, but I’d still avoid certain streets. The taxis did provide a measure of safety that people wouldn’t, unless it was more than one person and they weren’t walking in a group.

    Tell me, Gecko, did you live in Harlem anytime recently that you’re pronouncing it upscale? Do you have access to recent statistics indicating wealth? Or are you just reading ignorant blurbs on TimeOutNY and Stuff White People Like?

  • #88 Alon Levy, “Gecko, did you live in Harlem anytime recently that you’re pronouncing it upscale?”

    having spent most of my life in this city have been at the riots in harlem, bed stuy, east new york, lower eastside, burning of ccny, even columbia (which is definitely upscale), . . . and, thereafter all over . . .

    and now, crossing 110th street going west by bike there’s this restaurant that’s hard to pass that must be in 100 guidebooks . . . , and morningside park you wouldn’t walk through day or night where horrendous things happened to those who did not know better but not now and is really quite nice, and 110th street that was boarded up for years newly discovered for its central park southern exposure, and central park north itself has never been better with the fishing pond where you can rent poles and the ice skating ring you can now do laps in on warm summer evenings.

    yes, there are bad areas and disgracefully there are severely underserved sections and populations and unemployment in this city with health problems comparable to the developing world; but, the city has never been safer.

    and yes, was cued in when i did read in the ny times a few years ago that this famous filmmaker sold his condos in the dakota and bought several brownstones north of 110th street for his family with the money proclaiming it was the best investment he ever made, everyone was so nice.

    even though the financial near-collapse hasn’t helped now . . .

    but, don’t tell me how cars make this city nice and safe. this city thrives despite them.

    enough! have fun!

  • Okay, so Harlem is growing. And its crime rate is not as low as it used to be – just like anywhere else in the United States. That’s not the same as upscale. We all know rents are going up, at least for the minority of residents who pay market-rate rents, but that doesn’t mean the neighborhood is rich. It just means some developers are trying to gentrify it. If they bought at the beginning of the housing bubble, they even made money, just like they would have if they’d bought in Las Vegas.

    Cars don’t really enter this equation either way – it’s a sketchiness issue, not a car issue. If you really can’t tell the difference between a two-lane street and Queens Boulevard, there’s no helping you.

  • Woody

    Jeez, Can we give it a rest? I think maybe I started this brouhaha when I wrote that I was having second thoughts about going for three blocks of pedestrian plaza on 34th St. Offhandedly I added that I’d read some research indicating that people actually like a couple of lanes of traffic nearby, for a sense of security or something. So I said I’d stick with something lie we got on Broadway now. Then while I went away, everybody started beating each other up.

    Amusingly, Alon began to defend the notion that most pedestrians like to have some moving cars around. But he doesn’t think the Broadway Boulevard is a success, though I do. Meanwhile, that position provoked other Comments suggesting that our goal should be to ban all cars from every street in Manhattan. And Harlem either is or isn’t safe now or then, on the streets or in some dark park or whatever. Wow.

    Oh, Alon, last night my friend and I parked our bikes and sat down in Broadway to eat a supper of chicken and rice purchased from a falafel cart near Penn Station. Many chairs were taken, but not all by any means. I had noticed some ripped up pavement and apparent reconstruction underway around 36th St., maybe reworking a turn lane (and I hope the bike lane as well). Perhaps the remodeling will include better street furniture, better lighting for this still dark strip, nicer plantings, more bike racks, etc.

    The newish NYGARD store on 40th St certainly brings the bright lights to its block, but nearby blocks could use more juice. More than a few storefronts are vacant, due to the economy, I’m sure, and not to closing half the street to traffic. That’s an opportunity, I’d say, for the stretch to liven up with more retail and neon.

    I expect that now that this “trial period” is over, the City will invest in better amenities and the quasi mall will become even more successful. One evening we can meet down there and I’ll treat you to a beverage. No, make it supper on me, on condition that we buy our supper with half a block of Broadway,

    Meanwhile I’m looking forward to seeing more buses on 34th St and fewer cars there.

  • JK Per 125th Street

    One theme of this long thread is to put SBS and other bus improvements where they make the biggest impact — biggest bang for buck, best benefit/cost etc. Makes sense, but that’s not how NYC works. DOT is working within a constrained political space. DOT has the most latitude in Midtown. That’s the mayor’s turf. It’s where the big BID’s are the strongest political force, and where residential car owners are the weakest. We can all agree that 125th Street — a crucial cross-town transit and auto corridor, is a complete mess of double parking, cruising and frequent back-ups. But there would be hell to pay politically if DOT removed a lane of parking, or even properly priced meters. Harlem’s political elite drive everywhere. Collectively, they are among the most windshield blinded people I’ve ever met in NYC. Examples? Harlem’s Charles Rangel secured the largest single House earmark in NYC in T3. It was for a new 400 car parking garage at Harlem Hospital. There is a complete disconnect between the walking and transit taking lifestyle of 80% of the people in Harlem, and their political “representatives.”

  • The city’s entire political elite drives everywhere, including the SUVs-to-the-express-train Mayor. Harlem isn’t special there – it’s just the place where you could sell SBS as a mobility benefit to the average resident, rather than as a prestige project to enhance Bloomberg’s legacy.

    And I’ll repeat what I said further upthread: JSK has put sustainable transportation infrastructure in white neighborhoods over popular objections. She’s never been one to give a damn what the local political elite thinks.

  • Boris

    So how about those retractable bollards to control bus lane access? They can be EZ-Pass controlled, with buses charged various rates (one for transit, another for long distance), and cars and trucks denied entirely (or charged something closer to a fine than a fee). If the tollway becomes an MTA facility, MTA buses would just be paying themselves.

  • Citizen of New York

    Not for nothing, but you people acting like persons kill me with this silliness. First of all, Free inhabitants are not required to have driver’s licenses, registrations, and plates in any of the fifty states. (I have it in writing to prove it)

    And every time one of you persons whine about “traffic” (which is commercial in nature) you succumb to the insanity of this idiot mayor and all his admiralty and maritime laws he imposes on you. Then wonder why you feel abused.

    The day you stop eating the menu and actually eat your food, you won’t be wondering why you’re so hungry at the table.

    Wow, I have never seen so much slave oriented mentalities in one place.

    Just know every time you do something to waive your rights as free Citizens of this State and accept the privileges with control and penalties as this stupid U.S. citizenship; you annoy us people who are actually free.

    That’s why we keep finding you guilty every time you show up in court with those attorneys with their titles of nobility.

    Your first clue you screwed up should have been the day you got a ssn, (your slave tax i.d. number) after that state birth certificate was issued (which didn’t come from a church) then you traded your right to travel for a freakin driver’s license, then you gave your title for your car to the state in exchange for a certificate “OF” title (not the title) and then you went to the county clerks office to get permission for a church wedding (which made the state a party to your “marriage contract”) so you can have kids and restart the cycle… If you don’t feel royally screwed; then just forget what I said and go back to your state controlled life, so you can continue serving your master (The “STATE”)….

  • Kaja

    Wow. Pro troll or proest troll?

  • Ian Turner

    Kaja, pretty sure that one’s a crank. It’s way too obvious to be a troll (unless it’s a truly incompetent one!)

  • No, it’s a crank. He hits all the spots used by paleo-libertarian cranks. Trolls respond to the issue at hand, or try to derail the thread in an obvious manner. (Think Mix-ryG-son-dy on the transit blogs, or Bart DePalma and Mule Rider on 538).

  • New Yorker

    Go to http://www.34thstreettransitway.org to learn about Bus Way’s impacts.

  • Wow, that site is full of paranoia and selfishness.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

A Transit Miracle on 34th Street

|
NYC DOT is proposing to turn Manhattan’s 34th Street into a river-to-river "transitway." In what she half-jokingly called "probably the first-ever co-presentation" between their two agencies, Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan stood with New York City Transit President Howard Roberts earlier this week to unveil the city’s current Bus Rapid Transit program in its […]

City Scraps Pedestrian Plaza Option for 34th Street Transitway

|
Pedestrians who navigate Midtown’s crowded sidewalks won’t get as much as they could have from the proposed 34th Street Transitway. The Times reported last night that NYC DOT will not pursue plans for a pedestrian plaza between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue as part of the project. The plaza was the focus of serialized attacks […]

34th Street Select Bus Service Launches This Sunday

|
It’s no physically separated transitway, but bus riders can still get excited about the launch of Select Bus Service along 34th Street this Sunday. Additional SBS features should significantly speed trips along.34th Street, which already has dedicated lanes for the heavy crosstown bus traffic. By taking care of fare payment before riders board and allowing […]